Getting translations right

In this article I want to discuss the importance of translation being done correctly. That, of course, is the heart of our business. Many people don’t really understand what translation involves. It’s a lot more than just finding the equivalent words in the target language! There are cultural differences to taken into account, and in many subjects what we might call “jargon” – the understood and accepted way of saying things, which might not be obvious to someone who is not very familiar with the topic in the target language.

Then there are the hilarious errors like Time flies that became the flies of time (Les mouches du temps) when machine translated.

Cultural references can also create problems. One of the best known was in World War II , when the Germans surrounding the city of Bastogne demanded the Americans surrender. General McAuliffe famously sent a one-word response: “Nuts!”, which completely confused the Wehrmacht generals, who could not understand the literal translation referring to a hard but edible fruit in response to such a serious demand.

A major stumbling block often arises with so-called false friends – words that are similar in two languages but have different meanings. So, for example, you call the bomberos in Spain to put out a fire – the Spanish word for firefighter. Nothing to do with bombs!!

When your business depends on getting it right, be sure to get your translations done by a professional to avoid this kind of blunder!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>